Night court

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 8, Reds 7; Reds 7, Pirates 5: The first game was the completion of Monday’s suspended game with all the homers. The second one was the scheduled game, played in temperatures in the 30s when most other cold weather games were cancelled. And for whatever reason it showed up on my Extra Innings package even though I’m usually blacked out from both the Reds and the Pirates. Glitch in the matrix, I assume. Still, I wasn’t much into it so I watched “Night Court” reruns. Specific shoutout to “Chrizzi’s Honor,” the 1988 episode in which my inner circle childhood crush Markie Post had a party to celebrate Prince Charles and Lady Di’s sixth wedding anniversary only to have it interrupted by a siege in which hitmen tried to kill the anglophile dude she invited to her party because he was going to serve as a witness to the mob. The entire episode couldn’t have happened if cell phones existed or if anyone knew then how twisted the Charles-Di dynamic was at the time. Outside of some “Three’s Company” episodes, I don’t think I’ve seen a more dated episode of television that I actually watched in its first run. Oh, Mike Leake hit a home run.

Marlins 11, Nationals 2: A three-run homer and five RBI for Giancarlo Stanton. The homer was an absolute moon shot off Stephen Strasburg. Marcell Ozuna had four hits and Casey McGehee had three. Quite a definitive way to break an eight game losing streak.

Rangers 5, Mariners 0: When were one of you guys gonna tell me that Kevin Kouzmanoff was still alive? All this time I’d been thinking that he was killed in a bus accident in late 2011 or something, and here he pops up with a homer and three RBI like it’s 2007 or something. Figuring this Kouzmanoff thing is a Winter Soldier situaish? People recognize him, but he has no memory of his Padres days? Metal arm, etc.? Figure that has to be it.

Cardinals 6, Brewers 1: I figure one more game like this and those “so, are the Brewers for real?” questions I get on talk radio hits will dry up.  Shelby Miller, who spent the end of 2013 on the side of milk cartons, struck out seven and allowed three hits over six innings. Mark Ellis came off the DL yesterday and then drove in two.

Royals 4, Astros 2: Yordano Ventura was totally boss, striking out seven and allowing one earned run over seven while averaging 97 on his fastball. This kid is must-see TV. Like, real Must-See TV. Not one of those lame series they tried to shoe-horn in between “Friends” and “Seinfeld” back in the day. Starring Jonathan Silverman or some b.s.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $125,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Wednesday night’s MLB games. It’s $200 to join and first prize is $20,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on WednesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

White Sox 2, Red Sox 1 Xander Bogaerts one-hopped his throw to first baseman Mike Carp in the bottom of the ninth, Carp couldn’t scoop it up and Alexei Ramirez scored from second. And while there’s no guarantee he does any better with the throw, Mike Napoli would’ve been a first base in the ninth if he hadn’t dislocated his finger earlier in the game.

Blue Jays 9, Twins 3: The AP game story says that the Blue Jays knew it was “only a matter of time before they got to” Phil Hughes. Yep, them and about 28 other teams in major league baseball. The Jays put up a five-spot in the sixth and Brett Lawrie made it a laugher in the ninth with a grand slam.

Mets 9, Diamondbacks 0: The day he was called up to replace the injured Juan Lagares, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a homer among his three hits and three RBIs and he also made a diving catch in center field. Not a bad way to debut for the year. Bronson Arroyo was touched for nine runs on ten hits in three and a third innings. Eww.

Rockies 3, Padres 2:  Juan Nicasio started off a bit shaky, but then settled down and finished with six solid innings, which the Rockies’ staff needed.

Athletics 10, Angels 9: Mike Trout hit a two-run homer to tie the game in the ninth and send it to extras but then Josh Donaldson doubled in Jed Lowrie in the bottom of the 11th for the win. Those of you who dig bullpen drama should know that Sean Doolittle blew the save for Oakland and then Jim Johnson came in and pitched two scoreless innings and got the win. The A’s have won eight of nine.

Giants 3, Dodgers 2: Hector Sanchez singled home the winning run with two outs in the 12th. He said he had to win the game because his wife and young daughter waiting in the parking lot, had been at the game for three hours and that the daughter had school this morning. Ever heard of a cab, Hector?

Rays vs. Orioles, Braves vs. Phillies, Cubs vs. Yankees, Indians vs. Tigers: POSTPONEDI waited for you winterlong. You seemed to be where I belong. It’s all illusion anyway. If things should ever turn out wrong. And all the love we have is gone It won’t be easy. On that day.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Norm Hall/Getty Images North America
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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.

Michael Brantley’s timetable off shoulder surgery is “hazy”

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Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an in-depth look at how the Indians will manage their outfield during the early part of the 2016 season, in the absence of star Michael Brantley.

Brantley underwent labrum surgery on his right shoulder this past November and has not picked up a bat all winter. “In the off-season people know I love to hit,” Brantley acknowledged to Hoynes late last week. ”I hit a lot. It’s just been a change in my timetable.”

Hoynes says the projected date for Brantley’s 2016 debut is “hazy,” guessing that it might happen around late April or early May if everything continues to go smoothly. Shoulders can be tricky, for hitters and pitchers.

Rajai Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall figure to make up Cleveland’s primary starting outfield while Brantley is finishing his rehabilitation. Collin Cowgill and Joey Butler could also be in the mix. It’s a lacking group, tasked with replacing one of the most productive players in baseball.

Brantley, 28, has slashed .319/.382/.494 over the last two seasons, tallying 35 home runs, 90 doubles, 181 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 293 games.

Could the talented Tribe be in for another slow start?

Shouldn’t this club be spending more money?